Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

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Advice on manners and morals.
March 24 2005 7:48 AM

Sleeping With the Devil

Handling a loved one's decision to stay with an abusive mate.


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Dear Prudie,

I have two sisters, and we're all in our early 30s. One sister went through a divorce a couple of years ago, and she's dated a few men since. She met someone last year and told us she was in love with him. We all met him, and he seemed very nice; they had a lot in common. She moved in with him a few months later. Not too long after moving in together, they had a huge fight, and he beat her up. I took her to the hospital, and I helped her file a police report. She was resistant, but my sister, mother, and I convinced her to get rid of him for good. We since discovered he'd been violent toward her in other situations. She recently decided that she wanted him back and said it didn't matter what we thought; all that mattered was her happiness. We feel we should not have to forgive him for what he did. She feels we should stand by her and her choice of mate. My sister and I never want to see him or be around him. Should we stand by our sister, no matter what her decision? Or should we stand our ground, even if it means losing our relationship with her?

—Younger Sister

Dear Young,

It is always a good idea to keep the lines of communication open—in this case, so that you can be available to help your sister when/if she comes to her senses, hopefully before he hurts her again. Prudie's suggestion is to strongly convey your point of view, and give her some information about battered women and the prognoses of these damaging relationships. By all means, begin a paper trail of his transgressions, and call in the police when necessary. Tolerate the guy in a superficial sense, so that you're not cut off from your sister, and she'll come to you for help.


—Prudie, historically

Dear Prudie,

I have always believed in the healing powers of a private diary, and to my delight my 9-year-old daughter also keeps a personal diary. I respect her privacy and have never read it. But when my daughter took her diary with her to Grandma's house, Grandma read it. Grandma was upset and told me one entry had some choice four-letter words, and ended with, "I wish (my little brother) would go to hell." I was surprised that my daughter even knew some of these words and/or how to spell them. I need your advice on whether I should respect my daughter's privacy and not mention that I know about that particular entry, or confront her about it. I know in my own diary I write things that I would never say aloud and would be horrified if anyone read, so should I leave her to her personal writings? She is otherwise a sweet, well-behaved girl, with the normal sibling conflicts that little brothers are great for. What should I do?

—Privacy Protector

Dear Priv,

The short answer is "nothing." The kid is simply venting about her pesky little brother. As for her correctly spelling the four-letters words, most of them aren't that hard to sound out, and these days kids know quite a lot of words. Regarding mentioning anything to your daughter about knowing where she would like her brother to go, don't do it. She will feel betrayed and totally without privacy. And you might tell Granny to can the snooping routine because you don't approve of it, or else tell your daughter to leave her diary at home. This is the perfect instance to remember, "Do unto others ... "


—Prudie, privately

Dear Prudence,

I am an independent woman who has been happily married for five years to a wonderful, loving husband. So what's the problem? He works in retail, often on weekend or evening shifts; I am a more traditional 9 to 5-er. I don't have a problem with this. It's my girlfriend/workout/volunteer/quiet reading time. I actually think we get along much better because we are well-developed individuals. Some women I work with, however, cannot understand this. They keep asking me what we'll do when the little bundle I carry is born, and he's not home every night. A lot of these women are in superior positions to me, so as much as I'd like to give them a piece of my mind, I'm looking for a more demure response than, "Buzz off." Can you help?

—Happy With Alone Time

Dear Happy,

It has always seemed odd to Prudie when outsiders decide what is best for others. You don't really owe people an in-depth explanation, of course, but to keep the peace, here's a gentler version of "Buzz off." Tell them you're very much looking forward to spending time with the new baby, and whenever your husband is available you know he will want to, as well. Over and out.


—Prudie, conclusively

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I live on rural property at the end of a quiet road. We also run our own business from home. The problem is that we have an older neighbor who insists on coming over whenever he sees us about. It is not uncommon for him to drop in four times a day! He brings eggs and carrots, saying he just wants to say "Hello." My question is: How do I make this stop before I lose my cool? My husband enjoys his company and is not as bothered by it as I am. This neighbor also has a wife that won't leave me alone. She tries to tell me how to plant flowers, how to build our house, that I look tired, etc. I have hidden in the back room of our home on more than one occasion to avoid them. And they don't just knock on the door, they actually walk around the house to see if they can find us. How can I politely ask them to give me my space and call before they drop in? How do I let them know that I like them, but that we enjoy the luxury of privacy?

—Gasping for Air in the Country

Dear Gasp,

The Welcome Wagon neighbors have poor judgment and apparently nothing to do. For this reason, you will have to articulate your wishes about unexpected company. Blame it on your work, blame it on a personality disorder, but make your wishes known. This may mean an end to the eggs and carrots, but there you are. If your husband likes this man's company, suggest to your spouse that he arrange to see him at his house. Prudie can tell you this: If anyone knocked at her door, did not receive an answer, then walked through the house to find her, she would promptly get a Schlage lock.

—Prudie, sputteringly